For to be free is not to merely cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
- Nelson Mandela -

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dog tired

Ken, Owen and Myrna have just left for badminton and some socialising.
AL is at work.
The dogs and cats have curled up as close to me as possible and are peacefully snoring away.
There's a fresh cup of Rooibos tea on one side of me, a bit of dark chocolate on the other.
I've got a nice silky scarf around my neck and my Uggy boots on my feet.
Apart from the snoring of the animals, all I can hear is the humming and clicking of my laptop.
No music, no talking, no shouting, no laughing, no nothing.
It's hardly ever quiet in this house, but now it is.
Finally, time to hear my own thoughs, time for reflection.
Pure Bliss.

I was absolutely stressed out before and that kind of energy just seems to bounce around the house and hit everybody. At one point Ken and Myrna were screaming at each other, the dogs were barking and the cats were running around like crazy.
It's moments like that when I feel totally inadequate. How did I ever think it would be possible to home educate my children, to be together with my dh 24/7 and to be able to produce some work, all at the same time. I'm totally failing to do any of those three things successfully, let alone happily.

It's not helped by the fact I haven't had a chance to recover from my tiredness, because I haven't had a proper night sleep since we moved in here on the 1st of September. I haven't been able to figure out why, but every night without fail the dogs start barking like mad, always at a different time. And because I don't want them to wake anybody up, especially not neighbours, I ended up sleeping on the sofa in the living room. Because they then don't bark at all, or if they do I can catch and correct them at the first whimper, and because I nearly fell down the stairs one night because I was so tired, I actually didn't even go up to my/our own bed anymore. I did get a few nights good sleep that way, and so did the dogs. But hey, I didn't marry the dogs and I miss my memory foam mattrass and my hubby (is that the right order?).
If my brain would be functioning normally I'd be wrecking it to find a solution, but as it is I'm clueless. Owen has offered to sleep downstairs for a few nights, so I can get some sleep and I think I'll take him up on his offer. Only thing is it is absolutely essential that when sleeping downstairs he can't pay any attention to the dogs. No eye contact, no talking, no allowing them to sleep next to him. We don't want to reward and encourage their barking anymore than we probably already do by sleeping downstairs. And I don't know if he can manage that... But I'm happy to give it a try. Anything for a good, undisturbed night sleep.

Then, it would help if I could get myself to concentrate on my work and get this translation finished. I've been good today, because I've already done 3000 words, even with all the mayhem going on around me and I'm sure I can get at least half of the remaining 35 pages done before the end of the day. But I'm struggling and not enjoying it, and that's causing part of the stress. I don't want to be working, I want to be doing things with the children, offer them challenging new things, go places with them and then at the end of the day slouch on the couch and watch a film with them.

Myrna had one of her teenager outbursts this morning. Now, she's got an extremely powerful voice which makes it really hard to listen to her once she starts going, but I must admit that she had some very valid points about lack of commitment and attention from our side. We managed to turn the volume down after a while, but her frustration definitely matches mine, so I can see where she's coming from. She is right that for the past six months I've constantly been postponing and keeping things at bay. First finding a new house, then the moving, then preparing for another move, and now it's the book that has to be finished before the 1st of November... She feels there's always something that needs to be done before it's her turn. Obviously that's not entirely true and I have done a lot with her, with them. But she is very accurately reflecting my guilty feelings, my feelings of shortcoming, my frustration of having to work whilst I'd rather be doing the home ed and the household.

Gosh, that all sounds as if I'm having a horrible time. Where in actual fact I'm quite happy to be where we are, and I am really looking forward to moving to our more permanent house across the road in a few weeks time. I think what it is, is that I'm genuinely longing to settle down, to get into a more or less structured routine for myself, in which I am able to balance kids, pets, marriage and work. And I just haven't had enough of these quiet moments, such as the one I'm having now.

I'd better make the best of the moment now, then. Well, I feel that I'm already doing that. Typing away all these troublesome thoughts into my blog has helped me clear my head a little. My head was pounding before, but now I'm relaxing and I feel the headache slowly ebbing away. Just a few more days... and then the book is finished... and we can start preparing to move house again...

Never a dull moment.
Whoops, did I just say that?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Who'd have guessed...

that I would stay away from my blog this long?
Not me, that's for sure. I usually write to keep track of myself. To stay in control, I think.
But for many, many reasons it hasn't worked like that in the past two months.
Obviously time, or lack of it, was one reason.
There was constantly something going on. It was a massive exercise (and that's an understatement) to empty the Vicarage, to get everything sorted and packed up, to decide what was going to the new house, what was to go to storage, what was to go to FreeShare and what was to be thrown out. Actually, I rather not think back on those days, although it would be interesting to find out just how I managed to survive. And how others managed to survive my murderous tendencies... I suppose I was just too bleeping tired to pose a serious threat.

On the last day in the Vicarage my computer seized up on me, just before I had everything transferred to the laptop that I was given as an advance birthday present from my Mum.
And I finally found out why so many people are constantly complaining about BT and Sky. It took over one month (!!) before we had all our electronic communicative systems up and running properly again. What a disgrace! Maybe just as well I wasn't writing at that time, because I would have been polluting cyberspace.

Moving into this house was a ultimately thrilling experience. First of all, it's warm here. All the time. And the first couple of weeks we haven't even had the central heating on. But it's double glazed, there are no gaps in the walls and the doors actually fill the holes in the wall when they're shut. Then, there's a lot of daylight coming into the house, where the Vicarage was overall quite dark.
I thought I would get claustrophobic here and miss all the space the Vicarage held, but funnily enough the size of this house suits me fine. It took a while before we all felt comfortable with seeing so much of each other ;), but by now we've worked it out rather well.
And - oh my, I never thought I'd ever say anything like this - the fact that this house is so easy to keep clean makes a huge, huge difference. No more coal dust wherever you look. No having to wipe the table every time you want to use it. We can even see the original colours of our kitchen appliances again, all day through. It takes all of us no more than three hours on a Monday morning to create a clean and shining house. Obviously, with two cats, two dogs and at least five people walking around a lot, we still have to hoover and dust daily, but hey, that only takes something like half an hour.
And then living in town. Me. Every house I visualised was at least ten miles away from civilisation and had tuns of space and trees around it. Lots of outhouses, too. A small village, that's as far as my mental pictures would go. Well, regular readers of this blog have seen the house I'd been dreaming of for such a long time.
But not a town house. No way.
And yet, here we are. In a modern town house. Only five minutes away from the centre. A busstop around the corner. Shops and facilities within walking distance. But also a three minutes walk away from a beautiful footpath along the river, where I can walk the dogs for hours at an end, and - to make it even more perfect - off the lead! We're in a very quiet cul-de-sac, with seven houses and no through traffic at all.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have visualised a house like this, in a location like this.
But to be honest, it's exactly what we needed and we are all very happy to be here.
The only thing I really miss are the birds. Seagulls, blackbirds and crows. That's all we see here. I miss going out into the yard or the garden at night and listen to the owls. I miss looking out of the window from my workspot and seeing all kinds of different birds on the feeders. I miss the sound of the birds when I walk the dogs, because even along the river there aren't very many.
But even after thinking really hard I can't come up with other drawbacks.
I mean, we save about fifty pounds a week on petrol and loads and loads of time.
We don't even need a quarter of the energy to keep this house warm and comfortable.
It's so much easier for the children to get to their clubs and activities and I don't always have to be thinking about the logistic planning of it all.
It's even quite pleasant to be 'amongst people' again. In the little time we've lived here I've spoken to more people than I have even met up there. And up to now they've all been very friendly. Everybody has their own life, most people are older than we are, there are no kids in the houses in this cul-de-sac, but everybody is friendly.

That's how we found out about the house just opposite us.
When I told our next door neighbour that unfortunately we were only here temporarily she said that house was coming up for rent, too. And she knew the owner was tired of the short term lettings through agencies that he'd had and that had cost him a lot of aggro, so now he was looking to let it long term.
Well, to cut a long and magical story short - I will probably blog about the wonderfulness of it later - within two weeks of living here we knew that we'd be moving again before the end of the year! Another thing that was definitely not in my planning. I didn't even want to think about moving again before Christmas.
Unfortunately we have a six months contract on the house we're in now, but the new landlord has agreed to officially let us have the new house per the 1st of December, so that we have 'only' three months double rent to overcome. But we'll find a way to deal with that, I have no doubt about that.
Because he didn't like the house to be empty too long, the owner has already given us the keys so that we can start moving stuff from the storage into the garage and the attic, if we want.
The house itself looks almost the same as the one we're in now, from the outside, but is completely different from the inside. That's also a subject I'll come back to in later blogs, I think. Suffice to say for now that we think we're going to be very, very happy in there.

And then, in the middle of all this, Ken's father died on September 18. Not unexpectedly, but still. It obviously took over everything for a couple of weeks and even though we were all glad that there was an end to his suffering, his passing away also puts an end to lots of other things. My children now don't have a grandfather anymore, as my own father died over fourteen years ago. And Ken had finally made his peace with his father after a lifetime of struggle and strive. But at least they had these last few years in love and peace together.

As it's already way over my bedtime and I desperately need a beauty sleep I am closing down now. There's lots more to tell and to share. I have no idea when I'll post again, but my intentions are to do it within the next few days.